Business Leaders' Forum

Labour shortages create opportunity

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

The shrinking EU labour pool threatened by Brexit could pose opportunities for food manufacturers to look at automation and other cost-saving methods to fill the skills gap, according to law firm DWF’s head of food Dominic Watkins.

In the second part of this exclusive video interview – filmed at this year’s Food Manufacture​ Business Leaders’ Forum, sponsored by DWF – Watkins talked about the challenge of attracting labour to the industry, particularly from overseas.

However, he pointed out the opportunities that food and drink manufacturers can capitalise on to ease the burden of a shrinking labour pool, including looking at automation to fill the skills gap.

Workers’ reluctance

When asked if manufacturers could draw more from the UK labour pool for workers, Watkins highlighted their reluctance to take on the roles.

“If those workers were prepared to be working in those jobs then we wouldn’t have big businesses looking in third countries for workers. Why would you do it?”​ he added.

“It takes time and it’s labour-intensive. If you could look outside the front gates of your factory and find somebody, you would surely be looking there first. It’s not the lack of desire, it’s the lack of appetite from those workers to do those jobs.”

Meanwhile, watch the first part of this exclusive interview here​ ​​​and look out for more coverage from this year’s Business Leaders’ Forum in this month’s issue of Food Manufacture​​​​​ magazine and online.

Music: Tech Live Kevin MacLeod (, Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License,

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